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There's something intoxicating about the first zucchini of the season. It's sweet and oozes lovely clear juice that reeks of summer. It's a harbinger of the fabulous bounty yet to come. And it's damned tasty.

I could've called this "Chicken with Green Vegetables" but I like the Asian-flavored backward-syntax description better, even though the flavor of this dish will most probably evoke the Italian cuisine for most people. And there're mushrooms; they're not green. Suffice it to say, however, that it's important to resist the temptation to add carrot slices or a few pieces of red pepper.

I made this last night and am now compelled to share the insane simplicity and utter deliciousness of this dish with you...

 

Green Vegetables Chicken

A zucchini squash, washed, halved, seeded and sliced very thinly cross-wise to make little crescent-shaped pieces

A big fat sweet onion, cut up in your favorite size

4 ribs of celery, washed thoroughly and sliced into 1/2" chunks

Mushrooms; white, cut-up. No need for exotic nor fragrant varieties...

A handful of baby spinach leaves, washed thoroughly and shaken of excess water

Chicken (I used white meat but you can certainly use thighs or legs; the flavor will be better with dark meat)

2 Tbs. Colman's dry mustard reconstituted with a Tbs. of plain, white vinegar

At least four (but better eight) cloves of garlic, peeled and minced (or smooshed with your knife)

1/2 Cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)

Basil flakes (or fresh leaves of the herb, sliced into chiffonnade)

Olive oil (not extra-virgin) for sauteeing

Method:

Fire up a frying pan until olive oil placed in it smokes a bit (but not violently).

Add all the veggies and stir-fry rapidly. Season with salt and pepper.

After you've put a burn on some of the vegetables, take 'em out (use a slotted spoon so as to leave the veggie-scented oil in the pan) and set them aside on a plate. Don't wash the pan.

In a bowl large enough to hold the chicken place the chicken, mustard, garlic, wine and basil. Season with salt and pepper. If you have time let the chicken sit in this mixture a while before putting it in the frying pan.

Fire up the frying pan again and slop the chicken mixture in there and cook at a very high level of heat, so that the chicken is seared on the outside (light amber color) and yet not too well-done inside. The chicken should brown very slightly at the same time the wine's sizzling away into vapor. Try not to blacken the garlic, however; this will render it bitter. Right before you think the chicken's done, add the plate of vegetables and stir to heat through. Serve this all by itself, with rice or with the pasta of your choice.

I tried to gild the lily by adding some shredded Pecorino (Romano) cheese to some of it. The dish is far more summery if you can resist the temptation to add cheese, or butter for that matter.